More Efficient Air Conditioners for Hot, Dry Climates: Yes, They’re on the Way

The federal Energy Department estimates that average households invest 54 percent of their energy spending on heating and cooling. Here in the Yuma area, with our average annual precipitation at a tremendously paltry 3.4 inches, and temps in the 100s four months a year, we’re anything but “average.” It’s great news that more efficient air conditioners — designed for hot, dry climates — are on the way.

Just Around the CornerMore Efficient Air Conditioners for Hot, Dry Climates: Yes, They're on the Way

These new, more efficient A/Cs are being developed specifically for climates like ours in the desert Southwest. As early as 2008, tests were carried out on eight manufacturers’ units in typical Southwestern environments. Most provided energy savings of more than 20 percent, and up to 34 percent peak reduction (determined by infrastructure-critical peaks).

Likely Innovations

The test best-performing units benefited from:

• Heat exchangers fitted with microchannel coils, rather than standard tube-and-fin coils, have a far greater refrigerant-side heat exchanger surface area.

• Brushless DC variable speed fan motors.

• Highly efficient heat exchangers.

Much of the energy in standard A/Cs is used to dehumidify the air, which is unnecessary in dry climates. Equipment engineered to provide optimum cooling, without dehumidifying, will run more efficiently in hot, dry climates.

The efficiency of air conditioners running R-410A refrigerant, as opposed to the old industry standard R-22, degrades at hot temperatures. Despite this, R-410A — often referred to as the refrigerant of the future – is the most common refrigerant in new A/Cs and heat pumps, due to R-22’s forced government phase-out for environmental reasons. At peak demand, an R-410A machine uses between 5 and 10 percent more power than comparable R-22 equipment. Addressing this issue in state-of-the-art A/C technology will be an important energy saver.

What to Look For

The standard measures used to rate air conditioners are Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), and Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER). On-bench performance tests are typically carried out at 82 degrees to determine SEER, and at 95 degrees for EER. These are not scenarios that mimic our very hot and dry conditions. Instead, look for Peak Energy Efficiency Ratio, or PEER, values.

To learn more about getting the most our of your home’s air conditioner, please contact us at Hansberger Refrigeration and Electric Company. Located in Yuma, we specialize in Southwest Arizona’s special demands.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Yuma, Arizona about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about air conditioners and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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